The Cost of Interaction

I haven’t experienced a more concrete example of the low cost of interaction on the web than two responses I received from people that I recently wrote about. Ryan Holiday and Gary Vaynerchuk both replied soon after I published my posts. I shouldn’t be amazed by this, but I am.

An orthodox branding approach, when considering your name as a brand, is to create a blog and only interact with those who visit. This is the blogging equivalent of spawn camping. This is also a poor marketing tactic if your goal is to create and interact with a readership.

Unorthodox branding is to monitor mentions of your name across the web. It’s to pursue and engage those who have taken the time to share their thoughts about you. It’s recognising that this is word-of-mouth marketing in action.

We all have the opportunity to appear benevolent, and invested in the success of our personal branding. It’s acknowledging that you’re being spoken about online, and maintaining a dialogue with these people. It doesn’t matter whether they’re speaking positively or negatively about you. That you’re willing to take the time to engage, to create a dialogue, signals your investment in personal impression management. Few achieve notoriety for being an asshole – and even he’s embracing openness now.

I experienced some negative personal feedback earlier in the month. I wrote a review about an Alchemist show that I attended. Within a few days, it was picked up by the local metal community. The discussion made a few small waves before I became aware of it. You can read about it here. My response was concise, accurate and timely.

You could argue that it’s only a bunch of metalheads – who cares? That response momentarily crossed my mind as I read through the initial discussion. However – I care. It’s my name. It’s my brand, far beyond my responsibilities as a music critic. I will outgrow that role: my name will endure.

Nobody is more invested in the creation and maintenance of your brand than you are. If you’re not going to market yourself, it’s rare that others will do it for you. You’re your best marketer.

Comments? Below.
  1. globalized says:

    I actually Googled my name earlier today on a whim, and while I was pleased to find that nothing negative came up, that was perhaps due to the fact that very little relevant content was returned.

    Tim Ferriss actually had a terrific article back in January on Personal Branding — I’m sure you saw it when it was published — and his second tip, “maintain positive ‘cache-flow'” really stands out.

    It’s obvious and seems simple, but for me, putting myself out there hasn’t been an easy task. I’m going about it carefully though; I have no idea what the future holds, so for the moment, I’m trying not to step on any toes.

  2. Jeff Widman says:

    Funny–had dinner with a guy who reads my blog last week… He’d met Gary Vaynerchuk at a conference, and after speaking, Gary sat around for 4 hours and talked marketing with four of the attendees.

    Call it branding.

    I call it being a nice guy.

    It gets around.

  3. says:

    haha. yeah i’m a bm-er.

    i think that you either interact according to what sort of brand you want to put forward 100% of the time or create measures to separate the brand from the online soul (or personal account, whatever).

    there are about 3 main brands that I need to work on separating:
    at the moment, i am connecting everything together and hope for the best (aka if someone hates my art, hope that they don’t apply that opinion to my online marketing profession etc).

    i don’t know. a link to someone’s LastFM and LinkedIn profiles may just be a few centimetres away.

    one of the ways to handle this is to create a definite online brand (like or and just encourage your networks to that dot-com. Sure they might look up your name or various brands or read reviews about you…but…think of it like this: a dot-com will hold more weight than a few discussion posts about you.

    brisbane is a small city. if you fuck someone up majorly online, then I think that it will come back and bit you in the ass. it’s no longer “just the Internet”.


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